May 26 2007

10 years ago today I was being surprised by my family as I walked down to take my seat at graduation. They stood – blow horns and all – spelling out my name in the stadium crowd each with a letter on their shirt. I got extra tickets for the ceremony for “my brother’s girlfriend’s sister and boyfriend” who turned out to be another amazing surprise – my favorite cousins all the way from Mexico.

The week leading up to graduation my friends and I set out to go out every night. Each place was picked for the significance (drink special) it had on a specific week day. We completed the task knowing we would never return to these college bars.

Since my house was next to campus, all our families and friends gathered there the morning of graduation, drinking champagne and taking pictures. Then everything happened so quickly. I tripped on stage getting my diploma, went sight seeing all around town with my family, ate endless amounts of foods, sang along at a piano bar – went out one last time and woke up on my air mattress needing to pack up and move out. I fit as much stuff as I could into my friend’s family’s van, then we drove to meet my family for one last meal together at our favorite burrito spot – and we were off. The next day I was on a plane to Europe.

My life has been non stop ever since – in 10 years I’ve traveled to more than 24 countries, worked for one of the most prestigious hotel groups in the world, lived alone in a beautiful downtown studio in San Francisco, backpacked the world for almost a year, managed a night club, became an aunt, paid off all my student loans becoming completely debt free, gave back and paid it forward, ran a couple of marathons, got engaged to the love of my life and stayed close to my family throughout.

That was fun! Thankful for the past 10 years.

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Museum Of Ice Cream

Had the best and cutest time visiting the Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles Art District.

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Pink everything.

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The nicest Museum workers I have ever encountered – super cheery, helpful, happy to take your picture and give you ice cream in almost every different room. This was the telephone room where you hear a bit about the history of ice cream from Seth Rogan (it was invented in China!).

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Venice

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Ice Cream sign mimicking the Hollywood sign.

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Even their trash cans were cute!

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In this mint chocolate room they have mint growing in cacao soil so it grows being naturally infused with chocolate!

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Bananas!

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Gummy Bear room!

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Hahaha!

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Charcoal cookie dough!

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Sprinkles pool!

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Eating the last bit of a strawberry pancake ice cream sandwich. Such a fun experience!

52 Books

I’ve always been a reader. I have memories as a child of loving a book about a pie that rolled out the window while it was cooling, and just kept rolling and rolling. I read it before I could actually read – from memory of it being read to me so many times. I then read it to anyone who would listen, over and over.

I assume the same of any reader, but to me growing up,  reading was a way to pass the time. While my family worked at my grandparents commercial laundromat I read about an elf in stripes. As a bored teenager I read dozens of Babysitters Club books and set out to start my own babysitting club.

I never measured my reading, and after High School and College without assigned books I would go months without reading, and then pick up a book here and there. in 2012 I decided to start a measured goal of reading 12 books a year, one book a month. I reached my goal in 2012, 2013 and 2015 (most years reading more than the 12).

I noticed through the years I got much faster at reading – a mixture of that, and rushing to avoid a late library fee that found me reading 4 books in January of 2016. I began to wonder if I could keep this up for an entire year. 52 books? I set out to try. I didn’t reach 52, but I came close. I am beyond proud, I read 4 times as much as any year before and learned so much. It was a year of so much growing, and traveling through all the stories I read.

Here is what I read in 2016 (Each book is linked for your convenience) :

1. The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff

2. Life Is So Good by George Dawson

3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

4. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

5. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

6. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

7. Millenials@Work by Chip Espinoza

8. Born Free by Joy Adamson

9. A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou

10. Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian

11. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

12. Just Kids by Patti Smith

13. Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

14. What Are You Hungry For? by Deepak Chopra

15. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

16. How to Estimate With Rsmeans by Saleh A. Mubarak

17. Spinster by Kate Bolick

18. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

19. Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik

20. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

21. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

22. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

23. The Body Book by Cameron Diaz

24. Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor

25. Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

26. O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose by The Oprah Magazine

27. The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven

28. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

29. The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz

30. Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It by Elizabeth Gilbert

31. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

32. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

33. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

34. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

35. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz

36. Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet by Kellyann Petrucci

37. Balancing in Heels by Kristin Cavallari

38. The Signature  of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

39. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

40. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

41. Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

42. The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

43. The 13th Disciple by Deepak Chopra

44. Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi

45. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

46. Marley and Me by John Grogan

47. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (My second time reading this)

48. The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder

49. The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

50. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

51. Commonwealth by Ann Patchet

Books I started in 2016 but haven’t finished:

  1. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho (My second time reading this)
  2. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  3. How Not To Die by Michael Greger
  4. I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown

Audio Books I listened to:

  1. I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan
  2. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon
  3. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman

To more traveling through reading in 2017!

Podcasts I Listen to While Straightening My Hair

Serial

My favorite podcast ever (and the rest of the world’s). I love anything crime, but this takes it to another level. First season is about a guy in jail for the murder of his high school girlfriend. The podcast is put together flawlessly, with music, and actual phone calls with the guy in jail. You can’t listen to an episode and not get hooked. Second season just started, a totally different kind of story, but really great as well.

Criminal

Of course I started listening to this because of the title. This podcast is amazing because it follows different stories, so you get something new with every episode. My favorite part is that they’re not always stories of the criminal, but many times from a different perspective. Like the latest episode is about a diver that works for the police to recover evidence thrown in bodies of water.

Lore

This podcast moves from crimes more into scary, urban legends, horror etc. What I like about it is that the guy researches supernatural or scary stories and kind of gives you a history on the topic and then a few stories or accounts on the subject as well.

Magic Lessons

Someone told me before I went on my trip around the world in 2009 I had to read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I read it while on my trip, in one single sitting. This book spoke to me, I highlighted, folded pages, re-read, quoted, etc. I’ve been a fan of her ever since. Hearing her first Ted made me love her even more. Of course when I heard she had a podcast I knew I would love it. Not sure if it will continue, but it went along with promoting her new book “Big Magic” – she helps people who are stuck creatively, these are the “magic lessons.”

Dear Sugar Radio

Before I went on a long trip to Australia, New Zealand and Bali a few years ago I asked friends for book recommendations. I ended up loading my Kindle with the Hunger Game Books and “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. An incredibly moving book about her journey hiking the pacific trail alone. This is her podcast with someone else, where  people write “Dear Abby” type of letters – but instead it’s “dear sugar.” I didn’t love it right away, but now I get so excited when a new episode comes out. Her voice is so soothing, and their advice – even when I don’t agree with it always forces me to think outside of my norm. On one of the first episodes Cheryl called Elizabeth Gilbert for advice, and I thought – o.m.g. of course these two women are friends.

Missing Maura Murray

So I have a love hate with this podcast. Without being mean I think the hosts are odd, and not in a good way. I think at times they are extremely disrespectful, entitled, clueless and silly. However, the case in which they are obsessed with and covering (with no journalism, investigative background, or being linked as family or friends) is fascinating. A girl about my age has been missing for 12 years and no one has any idea what happened to her.

Women of the Hour

Lena Dunham, writer and actress on the TV show called “Girls” which I binged watched this year, created this podcast. Also to promote her book, it is so well made. Perfect editing, music, etc. Known as a vocal feminist she brings up really interesting issues in every episode, has lots of interesting guests, and some really funny stories.

ahair

Traveling Mango’s Life To Do List

random jan 009– run a marathon

– write a book

go skydiving

go bungee jumping

get a tattoo

-go to the 7 wonders

-Taj Majal (India)

-Chichenitza (Mexico)

-Christ the Redeemer (Brazil)

Colosseum (Italy)

-Great Wall of China (China)

Machu Picchu (Peru)

-Petra (Jordan)

get a college degree

– go to grad school

hike Machu Picchu

– live in NYC

– go to every country in Central America

– go to all 50 states in the US

go on a hot air balloon ride

– learn to surf

– hike half dome in Yosemite

– go paragliding

learn to do yoga

live in San Francisco

– go on a cross country road trip

ride an elephant in Thailand

– go to a drive-in movie

28 Things About Me

1. I’ve been to 21 countries.

2. My goal is to go to 30 countries by my 30th birthday.

3. I can tell peoples age and maturity level by the reference they make when they learn my name. Usually movies or TV Shows…the common ones are The Little Mermaid, Friends, and Super Troopers. Older men say the first Bond’s girl. There is one reference no one has ever made…

4. I am obsessed with the smell of lemon scented cleaning products, especially dishwasher soap.

5. I’d like to go to all 50 states, I’ve got 13 down.

6. Nothing about skydiving scares me. I’ve done it twice & thought nothing of it.  On the other hand, the thought of being trapped under a blanket, or going through long tunnels petrifies me. I think I’m claustrophobic, and crazy.

7. I got my first tattoo in Phuket, Thailand.

8. People often debate this with me, but I strongly believe that you can only be in love once. I mean true love. Once in your life. I don’t believe you can fall out of love. If you’ve been in and out of love 4 or 5 times at any age, it’s not the real thing. True love is eternal, and it transcends everything.

9. I was a vegetarian for 7 years!

10. I eat more than anyone I know. ANYONE.

11. I’m Spanish, Italian, German and Mexican. Born and raised in Mexico, California lover. Also, I’m certain I was Thai in a previous life.

12.  4 years ago I quit a fabulous corporate job in the heart of San Francisco, leaving my downtown loft apartment to resist being a 9-5er and explore the world. This was the best decision I made in my adult life. I backpacked the world for 8 months. The things I saw and experienced changed me forever and led me to where I am now, in a job that is nothing like the corporate life I was trying to escape.

13. I met my best friend on the first day of middle school in our P.E. class…every country song reminds me of her, and the year we lived together was one of the best years of my life. She is certain she was Vietnamese in a previous life… We’ve probably been hanging out together for lifetimes 🙂

14. My Mother is the healthiest and most well read person I know. My health appreciation and my very first book came from her. Probably all of my good habits are due to her. She’s my biggest supporter, my very first friend.

15. My brother has told me that I am one of his mentors, even though he is older. Not sure if he knows he is one of mine. We’re so different in so many ways, which is why I think we complement each other. Seeing him become a dad is one of the most amazing things I’ve gotten to see.

16. I am an SF Giants fan.

17. Spanish television makes me feel at home.

18. On the very day I finished my trip around the world I met a  Salvadorian and half Mexican half Japanese girl, I don’t think we had any idea all the crazy things the 3 of us would do together. Still two of my closest friends to this day.

19. I want to go to a place where people act like they do in all those Southern movies like Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes! (minus the marital abuse)

20. I daydream about traveling so much that I forget places I’ve seen and things I’ve done are real. I look at pictures to remind myself.

21. I love the rain. The sound and smell of rain makes reminds me of places I have been to.

22. The beach is my favorite place.

23. Running is my escape.

24. I listen to books on tape on long drives.

25. I try to meditate every day.

26. I’m anxious. I hate this about myself.

27. I write, a lot. I’d like to read something I’ve been written at an open mic night.

28. I love my family and friends, close and far, beautiful memories flood my mind of our time spent…The most important and biggest part of my life.

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Into the Wild

One of my favorite books is Into the Wild. A compilation of letters and journals Chris McCandless wrote as he went “into the wild.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. I thought I would start my week with my favorite quote from that book for inspiration. If something takes time, take the time, if something needs to be changed, take the necessary steps to change it. You are responsible for your own happiness.

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

-Chris McCandless (1968- 1992)

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